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Inspired by a comment on the last Relationship Theory thread:

Most of the time, I focus much much more on saying true things than saying a lot. There are notable exceptions, and it's important to try and say a lot when one wants to create new knowledge. But when explaining things I already know, or just talking randomly, my strong tendency is to be sure to get things right. One result is that, sometimes I say very little, or say things that seem trivial. "Horribly bad thing X, is awful, don't do it," or the like.

Anyway, the thing is, I think people often try to read a bit too much meaning into some of my writing. Really, most is not intended to be controversial. If you read my views on most issues, and go "duh" and agree, I'll be very happy, and you probably did not miss the point.

Also, sometimes I say things that are true, but often misused and abused in arguments for bad stuff. I know quite well that just because some people misuse a truth, doesn't make it any less true, and rely on this. Sadly, I'm often frustrated by people conflating the truth with the common assumptions about what it means. So, umm, don't do that (lol).

You may wonder about the use of a bunch of uncontroversial truths. One point is simply that although they really ought to be uncontroversial, and are among reasonable people, many aren't actually very popular :-/

The other is really a general approach to explaining things: start with simple, true statements to sketch out what the answer to some problem has to look like. Rule out the absurd and inconsistent, and maybe figure out on what continuum(s) and controversial "fact"(s) we must make a judgment on. So, basically, start with what we know. Then, look for a powerful explanation that fits with what we know (that will be controversial, and is what opponents ought to be arguing with).

Elliot Temple on February 26, 2003

Comments (3)

> The other is really a general approach to explaining things: start with simple, true statements to sketch out what the answer to some problem has to look like. Rule out the absurd and inconsistent, and maybe figure out on what continuum(s) and controversial "fact"(s) we must make a judgment on. So, basically, start with what we know. Then, look for a powerful explanation that fits with what we know (that will be controversial, and is what opponents ought to be arguing with).

a concrete example explaining how to do that general method would be really helpful.

Anonymous at 5:12 PM on January 25, 2016 | #4677
helpful to what, why? why did you pick this thing to ask about instead of something else?

your question has basically no content. you should put content into questions when asking people to work for you for free. if you give them a trade – some content for some content – that's fair. if you want to say nothing, and not have to think, and then get a bunch of great replies that somehow magically are tuned to you (even though you shared nothing), that's unreasonable.

Anonymous at 5:13 PM on January 25, 2016 | #4678
why don't YOU write the example you want?

did you try? and get stuck somewhere? where? why? what happened? what is the PROBLEM you ran into and failed to solve?

Anonymous at 5:15 PM on January 25, 2016 | #4679

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)